Greenbelt 2010 started with a ban on vehicles entering the site because cars had become stuck in the damp fields on the Thursday in the rainstorms. The effect of this was a wonderful peace on the site on the first day, as people carried their belongings in, many offering others assistance and enjoying the community spirit.
Throughout the weekend OuterSpace had a presence in the G-Source tent, complete with brand new glamorous screens to draw attention to the stall. Many people visited to offer support, seek guidance, or, in a few cases, to declare their objection to LGBT Christians. Hopefully the very visible presence of an LGBT-affirming group in the G-Source offered encouragement to many Christians experiencing difficulties with acceptance from their local churches.
On Friday evening, as the first OuterSpace session kicked off, a glorious double rainbow emerged over the festival site signalling the end of the rain and the start of a great long weekend. OuterSpace’s Friday session was another of its popular panel sessions, in which three trans Christians shared their stories and answered questions about their faith, their sense of identity and their sexuality. The stories were authentic, courageous, spiritual and moving, offering the 100-strong audience immense insight.
OuterSpace screened the film “Voices of Witness” on the Saturday. This short film documents the struggle faced by LGBT people in African countries. Peter Tatchell spoke eloquently to an audience of nearly 600 people on this very point later in the evening in the ‘Hebron’ venue. OuterSpace hopes that by reflecting on the stories which emerged in these sessions, Christians of whatever sexual orientation will be inspired to support their brothers and sisters in Africa. Peter Tatchell in his talk (available as an MP3 from the Greenbelt website) offered many constructive and easy routes by which Christians could offer such support.
On Sunday, in the Sovereign Lounge, Rachel and Sarah Hagger-Holt provided an introduction to their new book ‘Living it Out’ . The book collates stories from LGBT Christians of all ages and sexualities and suggests ways of prayerful reflection and action for all Christians. The session was full to capacity, with people also listening in from the adjacent room!
The OuterSpace worship session on Sunday offered a space for Christians to reconsider traditional leadership and pastoral roles and to think about how the glass ceilings that LGBT Christians so often face in church can encourage new forms of ‘priesthood’ and pastoral care. Tracey and Tom reflected on their personal experiences of being called to ministry within the church, and the prayers and readings in the worship session offered everyone the opportunity to reconsider and reflect on their own Christian journeys.
The OuterSpace Eucharist on Monday was an inclusive service, over which Rev Sharon Ferguson, Chief Executive of LGCM, presided. The session was very well attended, and communion was offered to well over 100 people, many of whom were LGBT. The songs and readings emphasised that being LGBT and being Christian are not mutually exclusive, and a warm encouraging environment was created in the service for Christians, whatever their sexual orientation. Rev Sharon Ferguson delivered a powerful homily emphasising the importance to God of our honouring one another, and the importance of standing alongside and affirming our trans brothers and sisters.
Throughout the weekend, OuterSpace offered morning and evening prayer in the Big Purple Tent on the camp site, which gave festival-goers a further opportunity to ‘be’ with their LGBT brothers and sisters, and to reflect upon their Christian journey.
OuterSpace recognises that it functions as a contact point in the G-Source tent for many Christians who are in the process of understanding their faith and integrating it with their sexuality, and it hopes to be able to continue to point LGBT Christians, their friends, families and allies towards the many supportive organisations who are able to offer the year-round pastoral support from the Christian family which is being so urgently sought and which is sadly so often lacking.
OuterSpace is encouraging people to feed back with ideas for sessions for next year’s festival, at which it hopes to continue to offer worship, Eucharist, panel discussions, pastoral sessions and multi-media events.
OuterSpace is entirely voluntary and is reliant upon members of its planning group coming together during the course of the year to share ideas and to ensure that its content remains lively, relevant and challenging.